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everybody has a funny story to tell...

Thursday, November 28, 2013
I am pretty sure nearly everyone has an amusing tale of some turkey-related mishap. And most have gotten enough distance from their personal, horribly embarrassing, dramatically mortifying story to be willing to let others laugh at a sad, unfortunate, accident prone Traumatized Turkey. You have likely heard mine in the past. But since this is my legacy, the blog that lives on in perpetuity, I might as well tell it one more time to swirl around in the cosmos.

It was my first Thanksgiving as a married person (I suspect most of the stories start out this way?). I knew there were 'parts' that had been stowed away inside the body cavity. Even though this was before the era of all the naked, eviscerated birds having the cooking instructions printed on the wrapper. I'd seen enough parts simmering in a pot on the stove to know that you are supposed to remove the innards before you put the bird in the oven. So I removed  the outer wrapping, put the bird in the pan, and proceeded to peer down in that hole to get the extras out before baking. There was nothing in there. I looked in the other end: nothing. I even got out the flashlight to get a better view: nothing. No package of anything that looked extraneous. I greased her up, salted and peppered, and put her in to bake.Assuming that this was the one that slipped through on the production line and did not get the little surprise packet inserted back inside.

Needless to say, when we ate enough to get down to the point that we could actually see through into the cavity: there was that well toasted little paper sack with those missing body parts. All dried out and crispy. Ready for the trash.

The one I just put in the oven about an hour ago: I had to soak in the sink, and let the water run through a while to get those things out. I'd bought when I worked on Sunday, and put in the fridge to thaw. But when I got her out, and opened the package, there were still ice crystals, so she got a good soaking. Needless to say: I am Not putting my hand down in there, so I got the tongs to extricate the paper bag with the spare parts. That were frozen in place, which explains why she needed a bath after sitting in the fridge for three days. She's in the oven now.

Happy Thanksgiving to all the people who will be elsewhere, enjoying Turkey Day with family and friends.


Wednesday, November 27, 2013
That's how many miles I put on  my trusty little Toyo. today when I drove to Tally and back. You will be amazed, surprised and confounded to discover that I did not get up before daylight to get on the road. Of course, I could have, as I was awake and lying in bed pondering... But I did not get up and into action until nearly 6.

I went to visit friends who live in Ocala, and were up to spend the holiday with family members in west FL. Due to making several stops, it took a bit longer than anticipated to get there, plus I did not precisely know where I was going. (I will be needing some remediation with the GPS, please.) I did Mapquest it, and wrote that down, and did not have any problem finding my destination.

We had a good visit, 'interesting' lunch at a Greek restaurant near the university (fried pita bread strips?), and a stroll through Tallahassee Nurseries. Though it was windy and chilly, the plant nursery still lots of things blooming, as well as a bustling Christmas tree/greenery/wreath business going on. Then stop to get a box of tasty cupcakes for dessert. The kid and the dogs took a nap, and we inspected the cupcakes at close range, sat and talked more, before I had to get up to head north.

Arriving in the dark. And going out to drag in a few plants I know would not survive overnight. I've done some prep. for lunch for tomorrow: a casserole, some dicing.Sadly,  knowing me - I will be awake verrrry early, and making the cornbread for the dressing, then putting the bird in the oven.

speaking of 'fortunately'....

Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Or better said: 'fortuitious'. Did you see me? When I was doing the happy dance this morning early, before I went to work? After I got myself showered, clothed, and face properly applied, I decided to put some different ear-rings in. And when I looked in that little plastic box that has been sitting on the shelf in the bathroom, innocuous, in plain view, for months: I found those rings I thought had been part of the heist.

I definitely did the happy dance. P. was apparently not nearly as pleased as I was - but he's pretty well past doing any dancing for any reason, so we should not have expected him to be twirling around with delight.When I got  home after work, he said that he had looked at the list of things we wrote, items we believed were missing, to see if he might need to repay the insurance company. Of Course Not. The total of what was burgled is still much more than the coverage we had for 'jewelry and furs', so the idea of refunding part of what we got never occurred to me!

I had actually already gotten over it - the loss of 'stuff', but I am now happy that the prodigal jewelry has returned. Do not plan to have a party to celebrate, and do plan to give it away, so the people who are the recipients will have to hide it or do the worrying, increase their premiums to cover potential B&E guys. The only thing I was even considering being sad about was my mom's engagement and wedding rings - which would be the only thing that was taken of mine I could possibly identify, had it turned up at the pawn shop.  But I am pleased to report - the things I thought were completely gone never actually left home!


Monday, November 25, 2013
It was completely unintentional that I find a day on my calendar that has nothing written on it. A rarity indeed. I had tried to keep the first of this week open, expecting/hoping to be on the schedule at Publix, due to upcoming grocery buying/eating holiday. I had a recent week when I was on the schedule to work four hours... and ended up with a great big whopping seven due to Halloween falling the middle of that week. And my going to the store in my clown costume for trick or treat in'.

I know Publix at a corporate level has taken great pride in the fact that over the years, in a crisis economy, they have never had to have what they term 'a reduction in force'. Meaning company has not let people go due to lack of work, no 'layoffs'. You may remember when I was reduced to working four hours a month? That kind of scheduling would be discouraging to anyone who had to be self-supporting, to say nothing of providing for a family. So -yes- they can say they have never let anyone go. But it is obvious that managers can quit putting people on the work schedule, and associates soon realize they are hungry, with no income. That's when reality kicks in...

Fortunately, I can sit here and count my blessings: a warm, dry house to live in, comfy beds and a refrigerator that keeps food edible - due to paying the utility bill. And a pantry full of things to eat. I don't have work today that will bring in income, but I am sure I can keep myself busy puttering around in my warm, dry house, the one with lots of good things to eat. I'm not yet to the point that I can say with any certainty that this house is 'safe', and will likely not ever be 100% on that again, no matter where I live. But I am continually thankful that no one was at home when the door was kicked in, and the damage has been repaired as well as paid for. (Though we did not have enough insurance coverage for the stolen items... which was a big surprise - after all this time with a guy who was in the insurance business for forty years, which strikes me as odd, unlikely, and somewhat disconcerting.)

mom's majik mox...

 Latest installment of Mom's Majik Mox, sent to Chattanooga to help out at the house where people work crazy hours, but like to sit down to an occasional (rare) meal together. I've sent a couple already, and making plans for the next one soon. (It's really not a 'mox', but that just sounded more alliterative than 'box'.)

I was at a friend's house and noticing a cookbook that seemed to be the answer to the working woman's  multi-tasking dilemma: too much to do in too little time. I borrowed the book 'indefinitely', and brought it home, to pick it up and page through it several times. I've found several things that look: a) easy and b) tasty. So I copied several recipes, and made a list to shop for ingredients - the 'dry goods' part that store/ship well.

The latest installment of 'mom's majik mox' was a sort of casserole, what my sister in law would call a 'group dish'. I sent the canned goods, and the box of cornbread, with instructions for assembly. I also included an actual 8 x 8 pan that was a layer cake pan of my mom's. I'd read a really sweet story in a magazine recently written by someone who had come to treasure her mom's pan, how the history of the container meant as much as all the good things she had eaten out of it over the years. So along with the ingredients, there was also a pan in the box, if she wants to get sentimental about i. It's the one that held the batter for dozens of layer cakes for dozens of birthdays over many years, when Choppy was baking cakes for family celebrations.

Chili-Cornbread Pie

Cooking spray
1 Medium onion, diced
1 (15 oz) can low fat chili beef soup
1 (11 oz) can Mexican style corn, drained
1 cup (4 oz) shredded reduced fat Mexican- blend cheeze
1 (6 oz) package butter milk cornbread mix
2/3 cup water or milk

Preheat oven to 450.
Cook onion in a skillet until tender.Add soupt and corn, stirring well just until heated thoroughly. Spoon into coated 8 inch square baking dish. Sprinkle cheese over mixture. Combine cornbread mix with liquid, stirring until smooth. Pour batter over hot mixture. Bake at 450 for 18 t0 20 min, until golden. Serves 6.
No reason you could not use good tasty, fat free homemade chili if you've made a pot and have leftovers, that would be 'way better than that which comes out of a can. I think the only canned I could find on the soup aisle was 18 or 19 oz, so I'd just guess at two cups, then add the other stuff.

while we are in this mode...

Friday, November 22, 2013
...of being thankful, I've thought of something else we should all be grateful about. It occurs in all our lives, and we never give it a thought. You use it many times every day, and the idea of not having it at your fingertips (literally) rarely crosses anyone's mind.

I recently read - in several hours, as it is a very small book- Bill Bryson's "Africa Diary". He has a marvelous sense of humor, can find amusement in things that are not even remotely funny, and writes about things that happen in his life. Stuff we can all relate to - mishaps and incidents of every day living that happen, when you might as well laugh as cry. I've read a couple of other books of his, and recently requested the  newest one from the library.

The "African Diary" is several years old, but new to me. He was invited to go on a trip by the CARE organization, that provides resources for struggling economies. I suspect that anyone who actually sees the poverty in third world countries is changed forever, always aware of the bounty that is part and parcel of our American lifestyle. The story that struck me was one about putting a water pump in a remote village. The women would, before the pump, have to walk miles each day to a river, that was their only source of water for drinking and cooking. Not always safe to drink, but their only option. Getting up before dawn to go for the day's supply before they would start their chores. Such a distance they had to walk, that they could only carry one five gallon jerry can per trip. (A gallon weighs about eight pounds - so that's at least thirty-five pounds to haul for miles.)

When the pumps were installed in wells that were dug in other places, the villagers were thankful, but when it broke down, they just went back to trekking to the water source every day. Did not have a sense of ownership, and were not interested in trying to repair a piece of equipment that they did not 'own'. So CARE decided they had to develop some plan that would have the people in the village feel a vested interest in the well/pump. If the community was to be the 'owner' of the pump, the people who lived there would be willing to do the maintenance, and repair when needed. You guessed it: they formed a committee! And charge a small fee (probably pennies in an economy that is so far below the US 'poverty level' it is invisible), and use the funds to pay for parts when needed. The community feels a sense of power over their circumstances, as well as a sense of ownership and therefore a desire to keep the pump in good working order. Even so, I imagine a bit of bickering over who was there first...

So: thankful for fresh water, thankful for electricity, thankful for detergent, thankful for washers and dryers. And more clothes than I really need, but thankful for the ability to put them in the washer, dryer, and hang them up in the closet, clean and ready to wear. Plus, even though, when the reporter called about the burglarizing, I knew it was all just 'stuff', and could be immediately thankful no one was hurt.

not necessairily....

Thursday, November 21, 2013
...an advance/early pre-Thanksgiving bout of thankfulness, but something I'd never had reason to consider before. I had a friend on my mind in recent days, someone I had not seen or talked with in several  months. We would occasionally meet for lunch, and she is one of those people I occasionally send a 'thinking of you' card when to, or travel and buy postcards to send to people back on the 'homefront'. So I called her this afternoon.

She was so sad, apparently depressed for some time, she could hardly talk. An adult daughter with lots of problems, the stuff we now pile into the catchall phrase of 'issues'. I know that this daughter, who is older than my two, has been teaching in the public schools (enough crazy-making for anyone!) and struggling with some personal/relationship problems. But from what I could gather through the sobs, my friend has been trying to help the daughter through some emotional crisis. Which has apparently caused the friend, a bit older than me, to fall into the pit along with her adult child.

So: thanks to and for daughters. Thanks for being so adult. So capable. So all-round able. So responsible (probably more so than I was at your age!) Such functioning adults. So not into drugs or other methods of altering your awareness/mood. Thanks for becoming remarkably sweet, caring, compassionate, honest, good people. I am so thankful for who you have become. Amazing people.

After I got off the phone with the heartbroken friend, I went straight to my little Book of Blessings. I think I have mentioned previously, a little pocket sized book, wherein I try to remember to make a note every day of something that I am thankful for. After this morning's entry, where I had written:
                      Home - warm, dry, hopefully safe,
and added:     Sensible, level-headed, healthy, drug-free daughters.

3 shoe boxes...

My history of filling and donating shoe boxes goes back twenty years or more. When daughters were small and still of the age to be enamored with trinkets that were 'made in Japan', it was a delight to purchase enough surprises to fill a box. We saved the biggest shoe boxes we could find, and would wrap them with colorful Christmas print paper. Make carefully considered purchases at the Just-a-Buck store, and pack the boxes full of goodies. Then take them to the pick up point for the Samaritan's Purse Christmas Child Shoebox program.

At one point, in talking to my brother several years ago, I heard that he and a group from his church would go to Charlotte, NC and spend a day in a (very cold) warehouse near the airport. Where they would stand next to a conveyor belt: checking in boxes, looking for contraband like toy guns or liquids that were not approved, adding pertinent reading material. Then, like piecing together a jig-saw puzzle, packing all those different sized boxes in cargo containers. Recently one of the daughters said that the year she was in India in late January, she saw kids receiving gifts in the form of Samaritan's Purse boxes, so I guess 'Christmas Child' knows no season, as long as there in an opportunity to spread the Word.

I continue to shop for little girl-y stuff, and fill three boxes every year. Someone suggested using plastic shoe boxes, with lids, that the recipient can keep and use to store treasures in. I took my boxes to the drop off last night.  Packed  to the gills with: crayons, coloring book, word-search book, educational card games, hard candy, sox, hairbrush, things that would amuse/entertain little pre-school girls. But not to benefit the Franklin Graham ministry.

This year the boxes will go to native American children through a ministry that is based in Donalsonville GA. A friend from church has a friend in southwest GA who operates a program that serves the Navajo nation.  I understand that the central collection point is Albany, GA. A man who is a retired long-haul truck drive will take a semi-truck load of boxes to Shiprock, AZ in early December, for the mission there to distribute to children in the Four Corners area.

To the three cute little dark haired, bright-eyed Native American girls, who get my boxes: Merry Christmas!

funny balloon story...

Tuesday, November 19, 2013
A customer came in the store this morning, and asked if I could fill fifty latex balloons for him to pick up later in the day. Iwas afraid the tank would run out of helium before I could get to 50, but fortunately there was enough 'lighter than air' in the tank to complete the order.I bagged them up in trash bags, 7 in each one, and had seven bags, plus one extra clipped onto one of the bags. I did not hang around to see the likely disaster when he tried to get the balloons in his vehicle.

But I did tell him about the time daughters had a sixteenth birthday. By that time, their dad had given them a car to 'share' (you can imagine how well that didn't work! Teenaged sisters sharing? Ha!) When they turned sixteen, I went out to the parking lot of the school with a spare key. And dozens of inflated balloons I'd blown up earlier, tied off, and put in trash bags to smuggle out to the car. And filled the car with at least fifty - maybe a hundred- balloons. As  many as I had air/energy to inflate. And left a long pin taped onto the window of the car.

It was hilarious, when the birthday girl walked out of the school building at three o'clock and could not get in the vehicle for all the dozens and dozens of colored balloons. So naturally when the door was opened, balloons came cascading out. How amusing!

my bank statement... argghhh...

Monday, November 18, 2013
I am not ashamed or embarrassed to tell people I am hopelessly 'math impaired'. For years I thought that was a big stone around my neck (and in reality it probably is - but I've gotten so accustomed to the burden, it has become weightless). But at some point, I finally realized that we all have different gifts, and that I do have things that I am good at to compensate for my brain not being wired for numbers.

But this go-round has been one of the most frustrating in recent years. It has taken about six hours over four days to balance my checkbook register with the statement that came from the bank last week. I sorta gave my brain a vacation in Sunday, deliberately avoiding numerical things.. I had struggled with it for two days already, and sat down to wrestle again this morning. Having learned that it is best attempted early in the day when things are clean, fresh, alert, rather than at night when my eyes and grey matter are tired and ready to shut down.

It finally came together, mostly because I said:' This piece of #%@* is not going to get the best of me'. When I looked back two months and found a couple of checks that had not cleared - it all fell into place. Which I would have done four days ago, had I been alert enough to think of this, and smart enough to know what to look for. So that is definitely Not my strong suit. But if you want me to teach you how to tie a beautiful bow for your Christmas wreath - I'm all that!

M.O.D. @ F.O.L. @C.G....

How's that for cryptic??? I went with my bff P. to walk through Callaway Gardens last night. They always have a night that is limited to pedestrians early in the Fantasy in Lights season mid-November through the end of the year.  Even though I am not sure of the cost per person, I'd have to say if you've not been during the month of December, it's definitely worth a visit. You could come during the day, and look around, see the Sibley Center Greenhouse area and Day Butterfly Center, both tropical environments you would not normally see in middle GA. And come back after dark to take the drive (or trolley) through the most enjoyable Light Show.

Historically this one night of 'taking a walk' has been on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. I can't say why it is earlier this year. Perhaps it has something to do with their 'enhanced' specialty tours? I have read flyers/publicity that tells about nights set aside for: bicycles only, motorcycles only, golf carts only, plus a night that is for 'patrons' so I guess there is something gold-plated with champagne on that occasion...

When I still had little people at home, we would make the drive and take the walk every year in late November. (After they got old enough, with sufficient stamina and leg length to not start with the 'I'm tired' whine, and the 'Pick me up' beg. And noticed that over the years the colorful figures that comprise the show of lighted toys, elves, flowers, Twelve Days of Christmas, would expand over time.

We walked for about ninety minutes - plenty enough for me after being at Publix on my feets for five hours. Not ashamed to admit that we stopped at the five mile mark and got on the trolley to go back to the parking lot that was the start point. Alternatively, some continued to walk for what was a seven mile loop back to Beach Pavilion starting area. It is an enjoyable 'tradition' that supports a worthy cause. I think our tickets this year were $16, which is bit of an increase over the years from five bucks a head, I paid for the three of us to go the first time we walked.  That was at least twenty years ago. I assume at least a portion of the entry fee still goes to fund programming with the March of Dimes. Though due to dire financial straits a 'destination/resort' like Callaway has been struggling with in recent years, I suspect a portion now goes to help pay the light bill!

how did Seinfeld word it???

Saturday, November 16, 2013
... did he say ' a show about nothing?' That's mostly what Saturday has been here. After days of driving for hours on end, a wee bit of employment, and hours devoted to volunteering. Today was: virtually a blank square on the calendar.

I did go with TP to a dr. appt. this morning, that was remarkably worth: nothing. As we were sitting in the little cubicle waiting for the PA to dig around and locate the results of a test done a month ago, we waited and waited and waited. He finally said: 'I've had enough of this, and I'm getting ready to go whether they can find the paperwork or not - how about you?' I replied that I had devoted far more time to doctor's waiting space earlier in the week, so I was not nearly at the point of loosing patience. After sitting for - literally - hours on two different occasions Monday and Tuesday, waiting for thirty minutes was unremarkable.

It was helpful that I found a really interesting magazine with an article about Matt Damon I was immersed in. That I did not finish before we were released, so I'll pass that along to all you Damon fans out there, as it somehow ended up in my car. Interviewed while drinking beer in Germany, working on "The Monuments Men", a movie I can't wait to see: about Allied Forces locating and repatriating priceless art work that had been stolen and hidden by Nazis.

I ate lunch I didn't want, but did want to see and spend time with cohorts. A new Indian restaurant recently opened on the north side of town, and friends had planned to meet there today. I was expecting that most of the dishes would be to spicy for my little tame taste-buds. And I was right. I love the flavor of curry, but in small doses, and there were no small doses on the buffet today. But we sat and talked for an hour or so, and enjoyed the unhurried time to visit.

Then I went to the Just A Buck Store and spent $51. Holy Cow.It's time to fill shoeboxes with kid stuff.

Columbus Sports Council...

Friday, November 15, 2013
As a family, we all volunteered to be participants in welcoming the Olympics to middle Georgia, when Atlanta won the 'bid' back in 1996. Looking back (and I wish I could really look, as I expect there are some amusing photos), I recall that we were there in Memorial Stadium on Victory Drive for the local version of Opening Ceremonies when the Softball competition was held here. Teams from all over the globe were playing, right here, at the riverfront stadium: Historic Golden Park. It was probably pretty cheezy by today's standards - but for us who will likely never again particpate in welcoming the Olympic Games to town, it was a pretty big deal.

The organizers of the Softball venue was the forerunner to today's Columbus Sports Council. A group that with a small paid staff manages to recruit volunteer labor to pull off some major sporting events here in our town. Recently Columbus hosted a state-wide High school Girls' Softball competition at the South Commons Softball Complex, built to provide the practice space for the International Olympic teams in 1996. And this weekend, in the Columbus Civic Center, the GA Highschool Cheerleaders are competeting for the state championship in various school divisions.

I spent most of the day down in a cold entrance way near a back door of the Civic Center, as a volunteer. Our 'door' was the entry point for the staffers and judges for the event. I had never been, never been interested, never been invited, thought I would not care at all about seeing it. Those girls are Amazing. I can see some real skill, major athletic ability, and years of devotion to gymnastics practice. I believe some of the talents demonstrated today are on par with what you would see at any state level gym. competition. Flipping and twirling and cartwheeling and flying through the air, and lifting and balancing, and leaping in a manner that makes it difficult to believe what your eyes know you are witnessing. I wondered to another observer if those teenaged girls had been taking gymnastics classes since they started walking.

I cannot imagine the hours of practice and devotion it takes to reach this level of ability. They were wow. I know in an event like this there can be only one champion team for any specific 'class', but when I think of how long they work at getting to this point, I'm thinking they are All Winners.

and that third trip to south GA...

The third time I went to Valdosta in less than a week? Crazy! Oh? Defnitely. I had an appointment at 11:00 on Thursday morning. Since I was not sleeping anyway, I got up at 4:00 a.m. to start driving, which would give me plenty of time to make several stops along the way. Currently my little secret addiction (not chocolate? surprise!!) is Pumpkin Spice cappucino from the curb store - which has limited availability, and can only be found in those machines for several months of the year. So you gotta' get it when the gettin' is good. Which I did yesterday. Bringing about several other opportunities to stop at curb staores farther down the road to relieve  myself.

And then when I got to my appt., the little receptionist said: 'You know your appointment is at 11:30, right?' So guess who was spending more time sitting around in the waiting area, cooling heels, reading more old magazines?

The highlight of the trip was calling a friend for lunch, and having her meet me at Taco Bell. We had a nice visit and I got back on the road to drive and drive and drive. I did enjoy seeing all those fields of cotton, awaiting the harvesting machinery when I was driving to and fro - and made lots of progress on my current 'talking book', so it was a pleasant day to be out in the world. Pretty weather, sights to see.

a universal annoyance...

Thursday, November 14, 2013
I had an appointment to be at the doctor's office on Monday morning. I got there about fifteen minutes before my scheduled time, as I know they hand out questionairres on clipboards and require patients to answer the same set of questions at every office visit,  no matter how often you come in the door. The waiting area was so full (a pretty small space - with maybe ten or twelve chairs) that I took the last empty space. And when an older woman, with a walker came bumping in the door, I got up to give her my chair.

It was a bad rendition of the beginning lines from The Cat In The Hat, where 'we sat and sat'. I was there for precisely two hours before I was ushered into a cubicle. A tech. did take my temp/bp/lbs., after about an hour, and return me to the waiting area. Where I had ample time to prepare my speech of indignation I was fully prepared to give to the dr. when I finally saw her. But when she came in the room apologizing, I didn't use it.

I went with my auntie in Valdosta on Tuesday morning to a dr. appt. with the man who has done some surgery on her person. When we walked into the waiting area, and saw over three dozen chairs, most of which had people sitting in them, I knew it was going to be a loooonnnnnggg wait.  I was very thankful to have brought reading material - though I finished it, and was reduced to reading the Southern Living magazine from 1999.  (I'll let you know how that recipe I swiped turns out.) We'd arrived about fifiteen minutes early, and it was nearly two hours before they took her back in the inner sanctum for weighing/measuring. We were the absolute last people to leave the building before they locked the doors for lunch.

So you can imagine that after having devoted over four hours of my time to cooling my heels in the waiting rooms of doctor's offices, I am trying to figure out why it is that WE are not allowed to bill THEM for our time?

how a little north GA town celebrates their veterans...(edited with pictures!)

When I made that accidental tour of Ringgold on Friday afternoon, I was amazed and delighted to discover that little town is remarkably supportive of all the citizens who joined the military. The streets of town are lined with dozens and dozens of American flags. At the base of each flag, is the name of a veteran, the branch that individual served in and conflicts that were going on at the time each veteran was in the service. So in addition to having the full name of each person on the flag stand, the wording also indicates whether they were in the Army, Navy, Marines or Air Force, and which conflict that service person was engaged in.

I noticed a sign, when I was chasing around, trying to get my copies made to put my letters in the post office, that the town was sponsoring a free concert on Monday afternoon: celebrating Veterans Day. Everyone in town was invited to come and enjoy the music. Don't know if it was the high school band, or just a community group of people who get together to make music, but I suspect there would be lots of rousing military marches involved, along with theme songs from all the different branches of service.

Sad that American has somehow become the peacekeeper/police force for most of the planet, but we should all be thankful there are so many who are willing to step up, be part of an all volunteer force, and provide the first line of defense. I know I am, and am often aware of the blessing of living in the USA. Think about it: here  we are, living in a place where we don't have to have a passport permission/papers to travel across state lines, or have armed men stopping vehicles on a whim to search and confiscate property on a whim. No one checks up on you every time you travel from one county to another, you can drive yourself from the Atlantic to the Pacific (if you have the time and can afford the gas) without being stopped along the way and questioned about who/why/where? Reminding me of the time my dad put his family in the Ford Fairlane Station Wagon and did just that - a story for another time.

Check back here later, when my tech support will insert photos of the rows of flags lining the streets of Ringgold.

we got up this morning at 5:30...

Saturday, November 9, 2013
... to be at the Chickamauga Battlefield Park by 7:00 a.m. Drove down to Ft. Oglethorpe in the dark, hoping to beat the crowd of several thousand people who would start showing up before daylight. Hoping we would not have to park blocks and blocks away for the race that started at 7:30. I can't remember my feets and fingertips ever being so cold. Due to sitting in the back seat on the way down there, I am  not sure what the temperature was, and don't really want to know - but do know it was cold with a capital C.

Amazing to see so many of the folk who were signed up for the marathon and half-marathon through the park standing around, stretching, hopping, in running shorts, thin T-shirts, totally inadequate clothing, while I was stomping my feet in wool sox, wearing five shirts, thinking my fingers in thick gloves might be frostbit. We walked over to the sign in tent, picked up race packet, and went back to sit in the warm car until time to get lined up for the race. After "America The Beautiful", and firing of cannon for starting by an unlikely little contingent of Civil War reenactors that had been camping in the middle of the parade ground, the hundreds of runners were off! Remarkably large crowd of crazy people out there in the cold, running for miles.

And the Absolutely Amazing time that our guy ran, finished the 13.1 mile Half Marathon: 1 hour, 56 minutes. I am pretty sure I could not have finished the course if given all day, and the park rangers would have been picking me up, completely exhausted, dragging my floppy, worn-out self out,  before they closed the gates when dusk was settling across the battlefield.

P. and I took a Chattooga County school bus/shuttle to watch our runner pass by, then jumped on the shuttle to forge ahead to the next intersection for more cheering of sweaty, panting runners. We made it back to the start/finish line about the same time as he did. And have been talking about the possibility of taking a nap the rest of the day. Now seems like a really good time to get started on that!

traveling again...

This second weekend in November is the one we'd decided on for me to be in TN. But before I could get there, I first veered off to south GA. Then got up on Friday morning, and drove north. So arrived in TN on Friday afternoon. But before I actually crossed the state line, I stopped in the little town of Ringgold - the exit before I usually get off the interstate at Ft. Oglethorpe. All's I wanted was a place to mail my letters that had been from one end of the state to the other, since I had written them before leaving Columbus.

They were the letters referred to in the previous blog-ette, and I needed to find a place to use a copier to send the veterans the letter from the newspaper that inspired me to make the donation for flag-buying. I thought: surely there is a little print shop, or public library where I can make several copies, for pocket change, and will then put my notes in the local postoffice. So I veered off the northbound interstate highway, and stopped at the second traffic light, went into a local pharmacy to ask where to find someplace that had a copy machine.

The clerk at the drug store sent me to the post office, where I was told they no longer have a copier, due to the fact that it was in need of repair more often than operational. The clerk there sent me to the courthouse, across the street, a after warning I would have to go through the metal detector, whereupon I went to put my folding pocket knife in the car. Went in the backdoor of the courts building, to find a deputy manning the metal detector. A very friendly fellow who said that he did not know of anyplace in the courthouse where they would let me make copies, due to privacy laws????

But he did suggest that I go to the post office. Which I explained would not work out. So we decided on going to the Ingalls grocery store, back up there at the second traffic light, which is where I started off. So I meandered around by my elbow and  found my way back to the main street, corner with the traffic signal. And went into the grocery store, with my tale of woe.

Begged the young clerk at the customer service desk to help me make copies... I must have done a great job of 'pitiful' as she took my paper, went off to the back of the store. Where she stayed and stayed, and finally returned with four copies of the article that looked like the duplication machine had been sitting out on the loading dock for twenty years. Almost of the 'mimeograph' era. But I thanked her profusely, probably kissed her and went to mail my letters. At five minutes after five, even though the clerk at desk in the P.O. said the last pick up/out-going mail was at 5:00.

And I realized, about the time the letters dropped into the mail slot that Monday is Veteran's Day = no delivery service, so it will be next Tuesday before they even leave Ringgold...after all that chasing my tail to get the letters in the mail and on their way to the veterans.

flag flying/buying time...

I was reading the paper one night earlier in the week, probably actually several days accumulation, as I seem to let them pile up and then sit and spend an hour or more trying to get caught up. And though there is usually little worth reading, mostly local news of a trivial nature, I do try to at least skim till I get to Dear Abby. Always something of interest there - seeing that other folk have problems I'd have never even dreamed about. That advice column is usually the last thing I read, and sadly, the highlight due to the comics not really being amusing any more.

The little bit of interest I found, I think on Monday night, was a letter to the editor. From some person who is involved with the local veterans organization. They are a group that sponsor putting up flags along a portion of Victory Drive in the median. I've written about this before, when I went one time to help get the flags 'installed' on poles that are stored at the Veterans' Welcome Center on Victory Drive, near South Commons and the Civic Center. The letter I read was a request for people to make donations to help replace some of the flags that were getting weather worn and tattered.

From the article I know the group can purchase a flag for $25. I sent a check for $100, along with a note requesting that the flags they will buy with my donation have the names of veterans written on the binding of the flags before they are used. I hope the veteran's names will be written with a permanent marker on the white binding between the two grommets that are used to attach the flags to the poles. The names I listed were my dad, my pen-pal/friend in Greenville, SC, and two of the service men I accompanied on one of the Honor Flights to Washington.

I also suggested that the group that does this three times a year on weekends nearest federal holidays try to contact other similar organizations in the state to enlist their support, and hopefully find others who will assist with the on-going need to replace weathered/tattered flags. I'm all for flag flying at every opportunity, and know that I live in a flag-flying town, with lots of retired veterans that would bleed red-white-blue if they could. I made copies of the letter that was printed in the paper, and sent it in notes to three of the veterans to try to engender more support for the project. 

If you are interested in 'sponsoring' a flag, I still have the info/contact number for the chairperson of the Chattahoochee Valley Veterans Association. Can't you just hear those lively John Phillip Sousa 'marches', with pounding drums and cymbals banging away? Don't it make you want to get up and applaud? The address for the vet. org. that will continue to sponsor the flag raising three times a year, should you be so inclined:  Valley Veterans Council, P.O. Box 12208, Columbus, GA, 31917.

They will be putting those flags up each May for Memorial Day, every July to celebrate our Independence, and again in November for Veteran's Day to honor those who served and defended. Whether you  pitch in and help support them with a check or not, you will still be living in the land of the free and home of the brave., I don't think writing a check to purchase another flag is too much to ask?


Friday, November 8, 2013

I meant for this to get posted on October 31, sorry it is late. 
I just sort of wandered by Publix on Halloween, and was talking to some co-workers, when the store manager asked if I was planning to come in and help with the 'trick-r-treatin', and I said I had not been invited. So he invited me. 
I had to go home to find the clown costume, and grabbed my red nose to add, found the orange hat in the back seat of my car. And dashed back to the store to pass out candy, fill helium balloons for kids. Say 'BOO' to passersby..

about being burgled….(edited with pictures)

When I put info. on the local panhandle area info list serve about the home invasion, I got a note suggesting I might want to contact a reporter from the newspaper. She was putting together an article about criminal activity out in the east end of the county, and how frequently this type thing has been occurring lately.

So I called the number, talked to the reporter, answering some questions, providing opinions. And said that though there was naturally a sense of 'being violated', with personal space being ransacked, I knew what we had taken was all just 'stuff'. Even though they were things that would be of some immediate use to burglars, as they were items that would be of monetary value, sellable on the street corner, desirable in the pawnshops, or in trade for illegal ingestible substances. Some so unique they would immediately be reported to public safety if they turned up in pawn shops, things that could never be replaced: jewelry of sentimental value, and commemorative items that were limited production awards.

But still - no one was at home, so no one was hurt, and even though some of the items are really irreplaceable, they were 'things' and 'stuff' we can easily live without.  Insurance will help repair the damage to the house, and might cover the cost of some of the things that were taken… but even so: they were all things that we had tucked away in drawers, jewelry boxes, so obviously were not of enough value for us to consider them as 'treasures'.

Plus we all know there is no long term value/purpose in 'storing up treasures here on earth', where rust and rot, bugs and humidity will ultimately return everything back into the elemental matter from which it was created….I'm a whole lot  more interested in having stars in my crown when I get to the Pearly Gates. Not that I believe we can 'earn' our way past St. Peter, but I do know all those rings and watches and bracelets are not going to be of any value when I get there to make an accounting of how I spent my time here.

what were YOU doing at 3 a.m.????

You've probably heard me mumbling about how 'old people don't sleep good', not really whining per se, but just distressed. Feeling like I never really get a full/good night's sleep. Now that I'm edging up into that 'mature adult' category, I've been taking various OTC's trying to figure the right combo that will induce a restful night's bliss. Not yet to the solution, despite my efforts to resolve waking up at 1:15 and 2:30 and 3:45. And again at 4:52  or 5:30, when I will finally give up, and decide to go ahead and get started on all those things I've been lying there pondering.  With my eyes wide open and brain spinning, thinking of what I could be accomplishing instead of lying there not sleeping.

So I woke up in south GA, at 3:00 a.m., and knowing I was planning to drive from my aunt's house in Valdosta to Decatur, I got dressed and on the road. Even with a couple of stops along the way, I was knocking on the door at 7:00. Where I thought: maybe I will just lay down for a few minutes… and woke up about 8:30.

So now we've eaten such a big manly breakfast of eggs and deliciously cheezy grits and homemade muffings, we need to go lay down and let all that food rest a while before getting out into the world.
Talking about going to Fernbank Science Museum over on Ponce de Leon St., to see the Marco Polo exhibit. If you are like me you can't just say "Marco Polo", but you say it as you think it from all those years of the game in the swimming pool, where the someone who is 'it' says "Marco" and all those others in the water respond with "Polo".

After lunch I'll be heading north some more, with my travels ending in Chattanooga. At the end of the day, I will have for all practical purposes, made the drive the length of GA, traveling the distance from just north of the Florida state line into TN.

it was just last night...and just this morning....+added photos...

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

... when we were talking around here about how frequently I am getting notices about break-ins out in our end of the county. I am on this list serve/generic mailing list and constantly, every day, getting something about someone else who has had a house burgled while no one was at home. Plus numerous lost dogs, missing cats, lawnmowers, bicycles, etc. But houses with doors being pried open, or kicked in, and valuables being gone when homeowners return.

It happened right here: today. I will not print my address, although we now have nothing worth taking. I am glad that I think/hope I gave away all my valuable jewelry, so when they plundered through my stuff, I don't think they found anything worth bothering with. Which probably was pretty annoying to people looking for stuff to sell.

When I walked in the house, through the carport door that I: ha, ha, ha, locked this morning when I left about 8:45. Made a straight line to the bathroom, while thinking: where could that piece of moulding have come from that is lying in the short hallway near the front door? So after I got zipped, and went to look, completely baffled, I soon discovered: we've been burgled! Firstly, I called 911. Secondly, I called TP to say: I've been broke into, you need to come home.

Some jewelry, a couple of handguns, the basket full of his pocket change.He is probably more distressed about the commemorative watches from SF and ring from the year the hockey team won, that has his name on it, than the hand guns. Those can't be replaced, but could be traced if they turn up in a pawn shop.

So here I am counting my blessings: no one is hurt. We are perfectly safe. The man who will board up the front door (dead bolts don't stop anyone!) is here. And saying we need to replace all this and that, since apparently no one bothers to actually repair anything any more....There are more photos, that don't seem to want to be inserted, of stuff that was flung out of dresser drawers onto the floor, when they were going through looking for valuables. Now that all the 'horses are out of the barn', we will likely have the door facing reinforced, as well as a much more durable door/lock assembly put in place. Even though both of the other two doors that would provide entry into the house have glass panes and would be remarkably easy to open for access into the house that no longer has anything of value...

If I were a person who does a lot of swearing, right about here is where you would see: #$%& and *%!#, with a bit of $@%##, thrown in for good measure. This is the sort of thing that happens to other people....

This is what the bedroom floor looked like: when I realized we had been burgled, and I went down the hall and took a picture of what those piss-ants had done when searching for valuables in the chester-drawers. Thankfully I did not have anything of value in those drawers. And did not actually have any 'drawers' stored in there either. So all they did was toss everything on the floor, before doing the same to the dresser and dashing out the door holding their pants up as their pockets were dragging the ground from all that loose change the stole, along with two ancient handguns.

more cotton stories...

Tuesday, November 5, 2013
That person got 'way more than he asked for: when he was inquiring what my dad did for a living, and I started talking about personal history and reminiscing about family, I could have told much more than I did - which was probably a whole lot more than he wanted to know. I should have given him  my brother's phone number: he is the one with stories to tell of working in the gin when he was a teenager, after school and on weekend's with Sonny.

One of the things I remember most clearly is going with my mom to take meals across town to my dad when he was so overloaded with work he could not leave long enough to come home and eat. This is long before the advent of what is commonly known as 'fast food'. And my dad would have wanted something far more substantial than a greasy sandwich and fries. Plus: we were  not a family that routinely ate away from home, other than the occasional meal at grandparents, which would be holidays at one set of grandparents or the other, or on a special occasion.

My mom would cook a full meal - the kind I grew up eating. The things my dad liked and she prepared as 'traditional southern fare'. Meatloaf, potatoes or rice, vegetables. Or porkchops, with rice and gravy, plus a veggie or two. Or roast beef cooked with vegetables, served over rice with gravy. Lots of starchy-type foods: potatoes, rice, breads, corn on the cob, fried cornbread (oh, my goodness!), creamed corn, butter peas, probably all things my dad grew up eating at his mother's table. I think his mom  had a cook in the kitchen doing the actual work - with the lady of the house supervising, telling the cook what and how and when.

So here's this hot meal, served in the middle of the day. And my dad not able tocome and eat it. My mom would dish it up on a plate, cover it with waxed paper (all that was available at the time! no one had even heard of  space-age plastic wrap) that of course, would not stay where you wanted it. And cover that with a clean dish towel. Put the plate full of food ,along with knife, fork, spoon and paper napkin (gotta 'set' the table right!) on a tray. Pour a big glass of sweetened ice tea. And expect me to balance it on my lap all the way across town to take my dad his lunch.

It was not more than three miles, but none-the-less, quite a balancing act. During the hot blistering summer, no air-conditioned houses or vehicles. So the car windows are open, with a good breeze blowing in, trying to uncover the plate full of food, and making that giant glass of tea sweat in my hand. One hand holding the tray, with a thumb on the edge of the plate, the other trying to keep the tea glass steady - and we're off!

We arrived at the little office of the cotton gin, a wee building about ten feet square, with a windows on all four sides, and a screened door that never failed to slam! shut. We would take the lunch delivery in the office, and he would sit at a little desk and eat. Or we would just leave it, for him to eat when he had time, the current mechanical crisis resolved. And dishes would likely sit there until the next meal delivery the following day.

He most often used a chest high desk that ran along one interior wall of the little building, not  uncommon in that era when so much business was transacted standing up, and on the go. He did all his typing, figuring, writing standing there at that desk, with cabinet doors under the top for storing business materials.. But he would usually sit, and rest his weary bones long enough to eat the meal my mom had prepared.There was a wooden bench along the inside wall adjacent to the door, and another bench, under a shade tree, with the outside wall for a backrest, used by farmers awaiting their turn at the gin to sit.

The only real memory I have of my granddad Randall is a sort of 'snapshot' image, with him sitting on that bench, under that tree, stuffing tobacco in his pipe. The tobacco came out of a can that was labeled 'half and half', divided diagonally, with half the can painted green, and the other white. He wore eye glasses, nearly bald-headed with just a grey fringe around the sides and back. He was smiling, with eyes twinkling: a big man to my recollection as a small child, but merry..

driving across south GA: more cotton stories

I had to work Sunday morning. Time for 'true confessions'. I was so confused with the Federally mandated legislated time change, I got to my little jobette an hour early. Thankfully I did not have to stand there, by the time clock for sixty minutes and wait, but found a manager who would allow me to get started.

I had plans to go to south GA when I got finished with work, and was loaded up to hit the road. It was a pretty drive - lots of colorful foliage in the trees, still some wild flowers blooming along the right-of-way. And lots of cotton growing in the fields, ready for harvest. So naturally, being the daughter of the cotton-ginner, I did some remembering about the past.

In my travels of the past forty eight hours, I passed three different cotton gins operating in south Georgia. One north of Thomasville, one between Thomasville and Boston, and another between Sylvester and Tifton. I know there is also another gin in the north end of Brooks County. To process hundreds of acres of fields full of the snowy white cotton. From the volume of cotton I see across the little swath of the state that I regularly travel, it's obvious it has made a comeback to become a financially viable cash crop again.

They don't pick it like they used to: huge combines cover rows and rows at the time, sucking the fibers off the plants. And I notice farmers/contractors/ginners who provide the harvesting service, have changed the way they get it to the gin house. It's baled up like hay: in huge, round man-height bales that are covered with plastic to protect from elements. Where it can sit in the field until ready to go to the cotton gin.

I'd forgotten what a dirty, dusty, messy job the process is: unbelievable amounts of minute particles floating in the air for great distances. Even on a Sunday afternoon, you could see these huge dust clouds from a great distance, think: 'What is that?' Then get close enough to realize it is air pollution that is a result of a cotton gin busily digesting tons of fiber/seed/leaves/trash. (You need to be thankful that you don't live near a cotton gin, you'd never get finished with cleaning house - as soon as you get to one end, it's time to go back and start over where you began). I have to wonder if the Quitman Gin Co., was originally built in an area where there were no residences. I can't imagine how tired a person would get of constantly wiping off the lint, dirt, dust that settles on every surface. And how dirty a body would have to feel when you are doing the hot grimy work of operating a cotton gin, in a tin building in August, covered in sweat, and having that cotton lint settle on your person. The particulate matter floating in the air for blocks around, always suspended, gradually returning to earth, attaching to sweat, creating a crust-y surface on your skin. To say nothing of what goes in your nose when you breathe, your mouth, your ears and eyes. It likely creates breathing problems, like you read about people who work in mills, spinning facilities getting 'brown lung' disease from years of breathing in that polluted air.

Someone recently asked me what my dad did for a living in south GA. In the explanation, I included that the EPA and US Dept. of Labor ended the cotton ginning business. Between what government required for controlling air quality, and demands for a decent wage for season workers, he could  not stay in business. I'm all for clean air, and fair pay, but there are two sides to that coin. My dad could not afford to meet all the requirements to provide filters for controlling the dust produced in the very dirty business of separating the cotton fiber from the seed. Or the expense of paying the men who worked those jobs a minimum wage, and still make a profit to provide for his own family. So he came to the conclusion he had to find another way to be the Provider. Not only for himself, but for his mother, who was a partner in the Quitman Cotton Gin business.

saturday morning project...

Saturday, November 2, 2013
I read this little announcement in the paper on Thursday. That is the day that all the 'goings-on' around town end up in a supplement that used to be about a dozen pages, and has over time been whittled down, by the publisher, cutting corners and saving on ink and newsprint, to it's current status of four half pages. But anything of note that might be happening in the area over the coming weekend usually finds it's way into this supplement - for the few of us left who depend on the printed word for our information.

The announcement stated that all interested parties should show up at 9 a.m. to help with producing blankets for the Linus Project. For more info., we were directed to: www.Linusproject.org, or paperwork that we could pick up on the registration table. I knew nothing about it, but was interested enough to make an appearance at the church where the group was to meet. There were about a dozen people, half of whom straggled in even later than myself, who showed up fifteen  minutes late. (A kinda-sorta joke at our house is that we always take two vehicles to church as I don't like to go half-hour early and he does not like to be just 'on time' as that is his definition of 'late'. I don't seem to get any place on time except when I am getting paid: then I am always fifteen minutes early to try to pad my paycheck.)

After the person, who was apparently the organizer, spent over thirty minutes talking about the project, we were finally given the opportunity to do some actual work. I was so annoyed at all the explanation, history, background talk, I was so steamed I walked out. But did not: and enjoyed the morning, talking to a couple of people I have not seen in years. While sewing the little identifying tags onto the corners of dozens of blankets. Most of which were crochet, with a stitch that was so loose it was hard to secure the printed satin strips of ribbon on, meant to remind the recipient it was a gift from the Linus Project. This group, in various configurations apparently meets weekly there at the Presbyterian church, and monthly at a Senior Center, and will meet quarterly in the fellowship hall of the church on a Saturday.

Some of the blankets they provide are knitted, some crochet, some fleece, some of the sort where you have two squares of cloth that are snipped along the edge, and knotted together around four sides. Some just hemmed fleece in a big square. Some heavy weight flannel, with blanket stitching around the edges. Some decorated with crocheted chain stitch, then a decorative stitch added along the edge. The 'boss' of the event said that blankets are given to children who are in intensive care unit at the local hospital, and to each baby admitted to NICU. Hundreds of blankets were donated to all the children who were attending the elementary school in Vermont after the shooting at Sandy Hook months ago.

I'll probably try to meet with them again, but if they are looking for crocheters, it won't be me. All I did today was stitch down the corners of those little pieces of satin with the logo. It was no more difficult that sewing on four buttons, which I do quite poorly, so I am thankful I was not being graded on my needle'ing skills.